J.C. Watts, chairman of the J.C. Watts Companies, former congressman, and former college football Most Valuable Player, will deliver the 28th Annual Rev. Thomas J. Furphy Lecture at 7:30 p.m., on Monday, November 7, in Billera Hall at DeSales University. The topic of Watts’ speech is “A Look at Politics in America and the Race to 2012.” The public talk will be followed by an audience question-and-answer session.
The event is open to the public free of charge, but tickets are required. For tickets, please call 610-282-1100, ext. 1364.
Watts is an analyst for CNN and a frequent guest on national and international news and radio shows. He has been widely quoted in major newspaper articles, both in the United States and around the world. He also writes a twice-monthly column for more than a dozen newspapers.
Watts was elected to the U.S. Congress from the fourth district of Oklahoma in 1994. In 1998, he was elected by his peers to serve as chairman of the Republican Conference, the 4th-ranking leadership position in the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives—a position once held by Dick Cheney, Jack Kemp, and Gerald Ford. In this capacity, Watts provided daily counsel to the speaker of the house and participated in bi-weekly meetings with the president.
As a member of Congress, Watts served for eight years on the House Armed Services Committee. He authored legislation to create, and he later served on, the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. He also served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Banking Committee. He led two congressional trade missions to Africa and co-authored the American Community Renewal and New Markets Act, which President Clinton signed into law in 2000. He was the author of President Bush’s faith-based initiative—the Community Solutions Act of 2001. Watts also developed legislation with Congressman John Lewis to establish a Smithsonian museum of African American history.
Watts was born in Eufaula, Okla. He earned his B.A. in journalism from the University of Oklahoma, where he was quarterback for the Sooners, leading them to two consecutive Big Eight Championships and Orange Bowl victories. He was voted the MVP in the 1980 and 1981 Orange Bowls. From 1981 to 1986, he started for Ottawa and Toronto in the Canadian Football League and was voted the MVP of the Grey Cup—the CFL’s Super Bowl—his rookie season.
After returning to Oklahoma, Watts served as a youth minister at Sunnylane Baptist Church in Del City from January 1987 until December 1994, when he then became associate pastor. In 1990, he was elected to the Oklahoma State Corporation Commission and became chairman before running for Congress in 1994.
Today, Watts is the chairman of the J.C. Watts Companies, a multi-industry holding company headquartered in Washington, DC, with operations in Texas, Oklahoma, and South Korea.
Established in 1983, the Furphy Lecture Series is named in memory of Father Thomas J. Furphy, OSFS (1912-1982). Fr. Furphy distinguished himself as a teacher of “national problems,” during a career in education that spanned 38 years, and included schools in the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Allentown areas. The theme of the series is “National and International Problems.” Watts joins an illustrious group of previous speakers including John Cardinal O’Connor, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, William Colby, Abba Eban, Lee Iacocca, Antonin Scalia, George F. Will, Vladmir Posner, William J. Bennett, Shimon Peres, Zbiniew Brzezinski, George Mitchell, Louis Freeh, Benazir Bhutto, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, William S. Cohen, Richard Armitage, John Ashcroft, Trent Lott, William Poole, and Tom Ridge.
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